We know all you moviegoers are ultra-excited for Avengers: Endgame, and most critics are complimentary—although our own Charles Mudede speculates it's reactionary against the Green New Deal. Other notable events and openings: the Langston Hughes African American Film Festival, the queer Kenyan love story Rafiki, and a surprising glimpse into the Satanic Temple, Hail Satan?. Follow the links below to see complete showtimes, tickets, and trailers for all of our critics' picks, and, if you're looking for even more options, check out our film events calendar and complete movie times listings.
Note: Movies play Thursday–Sunday unless otherwise noted
The greatest form of protest is on display in Afghan Cycles: women daring to ride their bicycles even though it’s forbidden. The new documentary from Seattle-based filmmaker Sarah Menzies is powerful—it’s a feminist anthem for the ages propelled by two wheels and the drive for freedom. The subjects of Afghan Cycles range from the women on the National Cycling Team in Kabul to the women whose simple act of riding a bike to do errands is a valiant act of defiance. NATHALIE GRAHAM
The double-platinum album Amazing Grace was recorded live, at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Watts, Los Angeles, in 1972. The singer was 29-year-old Aretha Franklin, returning to her gospel roots for two nights, and the shows she put on were electrifying. That album was the soundtrack to a documentary by Sidney Lumet that never got released for various reasons, some more understandable than others. After Ms. Franklin’s recent passing, Lumet’s film is finally available, and 2019 audiences can effectively pull up a pew and bear witness to how she put in work across those two days in the January of 1972. If you are not already familiar with the term “transcendent,” you should practice its usage—you’ll need it if you’re hoping to speak on what got captured in this film. BOBBY ROBERTS
SIFF Cinema Egyptian
In Avengers: Endgame, what happens to the world after the destruction of 50 percent of all large-scale life on Earth and other planets? People live in huts, gather food, eat less meat, spend more time with their families, and billionaires must learn to compost. This is what the Green New Deal will apparently look like. The horror. It is the mission of the Avengers to restore the American way of life. What is deeply missed on an earth globalized by American consumerism is the background of abundance: farm houses with gas-guzzling pickups, hot dogs that come with condiment choices (mustard, ketchup, or what have you). Avengers want you to believe that they are more than just about fast food and overstocked supermarkets. They are about families that feel deeply connected when eating hot dogs and hamburgers at a picnic table set on a piece land carpeted by the US's main crop, turf grass. CHARLES MUDEDE
British Comedy Classics: The Man in the White Suit
The finest British comedies of the 1940s and ’50s—Green for Danger, The Man in the White Suit—have aged marvelously well, thanks to understated, funny scripts and endlessly watchable professionals. In this week's Kind Hearts and Coronets, a spurned scion of a noble family calmly decides to murder all of his relatives (every one of whom is played by Alec Guinness) in order to become a duke.
Seattle Art Museum
Cadence Video Poetry Festival
Video poetry has been around since the late 1970s, but it's been enjoying a slight revival in a world where three-minute videos on the internet serve as our primary mode of media consumption. Local fiction writer Chelsea Werner-Jatzke is curating the second iteration of this festival, which will include video poems from Shaun Kardinal, Catherine Bresner, and Sierra Nelson. RICH SMITH
This week's event is Characteristic Cadence on Thursday, a very special final evening of the Cadence Video Poetry Festival that will showcase the films made in workshops during the month of April, as well as the winning films from Full Cadence, and new pieces by artist-in-residence Catherine Bresner, followed by a discussion with Cadence partner organizations.
Northwest Film Forum
What you need to know is that Captain Marvel is a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, and MCU movies are generally good-to-excellent, and Captain Marvel is no different. It’s smart, funny, and deliriously self-aware, and there’s a bunch of cool explosions. There’s also a young Agent Coulson, an explanation of how Nick Fury lost his eye, and a goddamn kitty-cat named Goose. It is an all-around successful comic book movie, like the 5,000 MCU movies that came before it. “But wait,” you say. “It is different. Aren’t you going to mention… [points at boobs, from one to the other, back and forth, maintaining eye contact, making things weird]?” Ugh, FINE. I'll say it. Yes, Carol is a woman, and this is the first Marvel movie centered on a woman. I’ve really enjoyed my Bruce Bannerses and Steve Rogerses, but I liked my Carol Danvers even more. It was great to see someone who looked like me straight-up destroy alien bad guys. ELINOR JONES
Cinema Eclectica: On Body and Soul
This always interesting international film series will screen the latest film by the magical Hungarian auteur Ildikó Enyedi, a dreamy love story about the aging manager of an abattoir and a beautiful quality control inspector. This was Hungary's nominee for the 2018 Oscars.
Mary Kay Place plays a dogged yet self-denying middle-aged woman who, suppressing her own need for happiness, throws everything into her efforts to keep her son off drugs. Kent Jones won the "Directors to Watch" award at Palm Springs International Film Festival, while the film snagged Best Cinematography, Best Narrative Feature, and Best Screenplay at Tribeca. Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post calls Place's performance "quietly astonishing."
SIFF Cinema Uptown
The Eyes of Orson Welles
Critic and historian Mark Cousins explores the inner life of the filmmaking enfant terrible Orson Welles (Citizen Kane, The Magnificent Ambersons, Touch of Evil), using newly accessible paintings, sketches, and drawings by the auteur. A must for anyone wanting to revisit a titan of 20th-century American cinema.
Northwest Film Forum
First Person Plural
In First Person Plural, two filmmakers—one Muslim and one Christian—bridge gaps between their faiths when they fall in love and discover that their family lives are very similar. See a preview screening and discuss the film with some of its collaborators.
Rainier Arts Center
The Godfather Part II
The Godfather Part II, cinema's greatest sequel, offers such a rich, dark, sprawling trip you'll be tempted to think it's better than the first. Two storylines entwine: the rise of the young immigrant Don Vito (Robert De Niro, who won an Oscar) in 1920s New York as he enters a life of crime and the reign of his son Don Michael (Al Pacino, nominated for an Oscar) in postwar America. Full of dangerous alliances and betrayals, lush mise-en-scène, and Nino Rota's unforgettable melodies. Francis Ford Coppola was justly awarded Best Director at the Academy Awards for this apotheosis of the mafia movie.
Slow, cruel, and ghoulishly beautiful, Hagazussa chronicles the deterioration of an outcast woman in 15th-century Austria. Shunned single mother Albrun, haunted by her own mother’s death from plague, lives in a mountain hut and farms goats. One day, she lets down her guard to a seemingly kind villager named Swinda, a mistake with catastrophic results. The story is not as dramatically satisfying as The Witch, a comparison that seems inevitable. But first-time director Lukas Feigelfeld’s concept is as scary as anything: religious persecution spurring its victims to ever-greater masochistic transgressions. JOULE ZELMAN
“Sorry about the mess,” Lucien Greaves, the cofounder of the Satanic Temple, says to the crew of Hail Satan? as he welcomes them into the organization’s headquarters in Salem, Massachusetts. Like the Satanic Temple, director Penny Lane’s Hail Satan? isn’t quite what it seems: Yes, Lane’s affectionate and funny documentary does feature some pig heads getting slammed onto spikes, and yes, there are some naked writhing people. But Hail Satan? is more interested in the organization’s vision of “contemporary satanism”—one that doesn’t include worshipping the devil but does include progressive activism and providing a “sociopolitical counter-myth” in a country that’s too often characterized as a “Christian nation.” [Greaves:] "We are a secular nation. We are supposed to be a democratic, pluralist nation.” That’s a fact that seems ominously and increasingly forgotten in Trump’s America, so forget about the question mark. Hail Satan. ERIK HENRIKSEN
SIFF Cinema Egyptian
Claire Denis’s High Life is the French art-house director’s first science-fiction film and her first English script. It depicts outer space in a way we’re not used to seeing on-screen: through the utter absence of visual information. The spaceship is a clunky rectangular box, its interiors are shabby and grimy, and the cosmos is represented by a few sprinkles of light on a black background. Denis’s story is abstract and nonlinear, and her characters function like allegorical symbols rather than humans. Some will be impressed by the weightiness of Denis’s jag into zero gravity, but for me, High Life was a frustrating experience, a collection of half-developed ideas being sucked into an unfocused void. The nature of Denis’s provocations is clear: With High Life, she’s drawing a parallel between the desperate boredom of life and its ceaseless ability to perpetuate itself, even amid the most dire of circumstances. NED LANNAMANN
SIFF Cinema Uptown & AMC Seattle 10
Hotel by the River
This film may be the incredibly prolific South Korean filmmaker's most poetic, complex, self-interrogative, and touching work, according to nearly every critic who's seen it. Aging poet Ko Younghwan, feeling the approach of mortality, summons his two sons to a quiet hotel. When by chance he meets two lovely women in the snowy streets outside, he's torn between the conflict of his family life and visions of the sublime. Richard Brody of the New Yorker writes: "There’s a series of crisscrossing comedic twists involving coffee, others involving autographs, still others involving a car. There are jokes involving names and Ko’s presents for his grown children. But once the action—which is to say, the conversation—begins, it’s quietly flaying."
Northwest Film Forum
In November 2008, members of the radical terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba laid siege on Mumbai, India, and killed 174 people. Many of those deaths happened inside the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, an immense luxury hotel where guests and staff were trapped for days. Hotel Mumbai dramatizes these events from the point of view of those stuck inside. In other words, it’s a fairly traumatic thing to sit through—a story of prolonged, extreme, senseless, and very real violence. The movie fulfills its duty by honoring the memories of those who were killed, and it’s well-made and acted (performers include Armie Hammer, Dev Patel, and Counterpart’s Nazanin Boniadi). And western audiences ignorant of this horrific event could maybe stand to be educated about it. Just know what you’re getting into. NED LANNAMANN
Langston Hughes African American Film Festival
Charles Mudede has written: "I have yet to attend a Langston Hughes African American Film Festival that doesn’t have an important black-directed or black-themed film that’s somehow been missed by the wider film community or is unavailable in any format—web, disk, cable, theater." On opening night, meet black Northwest filmmakers, sip champagne, and watch a selection of short films, including Wes Goodrich's "Goodnight, Fred" (about the last night of Fred Hampton), Eric Dyson's "Baby Steps" (about a man coping with depression in the aftermath of his father's suicide), Leila Jarman's "Dynamite" (an exploration of black male masculinity and other identities), and more. Other films and events this weekend (among many others) include the coming-of-age film On the Beat (Friday), the political documentary In the System and two VR films (Saturday), and the Mozambiquan film Motherland (Sunday).
Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute
The latest from Hillsboro-based stop-motion studio Laika is astonishingly beautiful. From the secluded, cerulean glens of Pacific Northwest timberland to the jaunty, slate-topped roofs of Victorian London, every scene represents artwork on the highest level from an army of masters in their craft. But despite its visual splendor and charming premise—a lonely bigfoot recruits a hard-luck cryptozoologist and a feisty adventuress to transport him to what he hopes will be a welcoming tribe of Himalayan yeti—it’s perplexing that a studio that’s had trouble with cultural representation in the past (“Why is the movie’s main cast so white?” asked BuzzFeed about 2016’s Kubo and the Two Strings) would pick a colonialist gadfly to serve as Missing Link’s protagonist. BEN COLEMAN
Paris to Pittsburgh
This documentary reveals how cities around the world are grappling with the problem of climate change in the wake of Trump's decision to leave the Paris agreement. Stay on for a Q&A with the Emmy-winning producer/director, Sidney Beaumont.
In this adorable-looking anime by Hiroyasu Ishida, a boy genius sets out to solve the mystery of an influx of penguins in his little inland town.
No show Friday
A cute Adélie penguin named Steve pals up with emperor penguin Wuzzo in this new nature documentary film from the Disneynature studio, narrated by Ed Helms. The footage looks gorgeous, at the very least, so this should be an excellent way to celebrate the wonders of the planet.
AMC Pacific Place & Thornton Place
For many in the United States, Rafiki, the second feature by the talented Kenyan director Wanuri Kahiu, will appear to be straightforward. There are two young black women. They fall in love, but their society is opposed to such unions. But what's interesting about this movie is not so much its story, but the type of black African society that's seen through the lens of a budding lesbian romance. We see a neighborhood in a part of Nairobi that's clearly middle-class. People have mortgages to pay and are engaged in forms of employment with secure incomes: nursing, civil service, the ownership of small businesses. My point: It's rare to see this side of Africa (middle-class, urban, post-postcolonial) on the screen. Also, Rafiki, which means "friends" in Swahili, has several utterly beautiful sequences, most of which involve the lesbian affair. This director knows how to capture on film the wonderful feeling of falling in love. CHARLES MUDEDE
SIFF Cinema Uptown
This film should complement Seattle's current ramen mania. A young Japanese man travels to Singapore to search for recipes from his mother's family there. Along the way, he tries to reconnect with his grandmother, despite the fact that the family is still riven by Japanese brutality in Singapore during World War II.
Northwest Film Forum
The Russian Five
You might be familiar with the story of how the manager of the Detroit Red Wings sneaked behind the Iron Curtain to poach some of the finest hockey players of the Russian Red Army, helping them defect to America. But it's a thrilling enough story that it's worth going over again, which is exactly what this documentary by Joshua Riehl does.
SIFF Film Center
Scarecrow Academy 1959: Hiroshima, Mon Amour
The video rental library's new series contends that 1959 was the best year in film history ever. It saw "a high point of Hollywood studio filmmaking, the rise of new independent cinema, the great flowering of international movies, and the beginning of the French New Wave." Film critic Robert Horton will delve into the highlights of this landmark year, including Alain Resnais's pivotal Hiroshima, mon amour. Writes Charles Mudede: "How many times have I watched that film? God only knows. It was one of the few movies in the world to express with near perfection the truth about the soul-destroying effects a city has on lovers, the pain it can cause them, the monsters that it turns them into. God, yes, I watched that film many times that even now, with perfect clarity, I can recall the sad faces of the city lovers. I can recall the destruction of the city. I can recall how the camera roamed the revived streets of post-bomb Hiroshima. I can recall the hollow sound of steps on the empty street. The blinking neon lights. The emptiness. The absence of God and nature. 'There will be ten thousand suns...and chaos will prevail.' Yes, I remember Hiroshima Mon Amour."
You like your nephew! He’s nine years old, absolutely adorable, and as boring as a bar of Ivory soap. And that’s pretty much the vibe of Shazam!, which, like Aquaman, is practically begging to be known as “the fun one” in DC’s line of grumpy, mostly unenjoyable superhero flicks. Based on the old-timey Captain Marvel comics, Shazam! tells the story of orphaned Billy Batson who stumbles into a wizard’s cave and is given god-like powers (and a buff adult’s body) to become the world’s super-charged champion against the seven deadly sins. Billy yells the name “Shazam,” lightning pops out of the sky, and bam—the transformation is complete. If you’re 9 years old, you’ll think it’s pretty good. There’s not a lot here to appreciate if you’re an adult. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY
They Shall Not Grow Old
Peter Jackson has led a team of restorationists and lip-readers (!) to snatch back moments of World War I in living detail. Archival films from the era were colorized and repaired, and experts were called in to decrypt what the people in the shots were saying. The results, bolstered by interviews and reminiscences, are history as you've never seen it.
AMC Pacific Place & Crest
Trans Shorts and Speed Friending
This event, especially for trans folks, offers shorts from the Seattle Transgender Film Festival followed by "Speed Friending" for making new queer cinema-loving pals.
University Branch Library
Us is a movie about doppelgängers—our evil twins that, according to folklore, must be killed, lest they kill us and assume our identities. But Us is also about shadows emerging from their own darkness; the illusory depths of mirrors; the fear we project onto the “other” instead of examining our own brutality; and, more abstractly, the barbaric history of slavery and mass genocide that America has unsuccessfully tried to bury, how the country is actively destroying itself, and what it’ll look like when its chickens finally come home to roost. The unfortunate recipients of all this horror are the Wilsons—Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o, who deserves a billion awards), Gabe (Winston Duke), and kids Zora (Shahadi Wright) and the perpetually masked Jason (Evan Alex)—who are just trying to enjoy a nice summer vacation in the warm California sun. As a horror exercise peppered with moments of comic relief and images that prove surprisingly unnerving, Us is an exceedingly great slasher movie. But there's a lot going on here, and Us suffers for it. CIARA DOLAN
Our critics don't recommend these movies, but you might like to know about them anyway.